After reading a variety of things recently, I’m thinking that someone should write a biography of Congressman Emanuel Celler, the longtime Chair of the House Judiciary Committee who was one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Consider the following:
1. Celler was in the House for nearly 50 years (1923-1972) representing Brooklyn and chaired the Judiciary Committee off and on for more than 20 years.
2. He was the most vocal opponent of the national (read racist) quota system for immigration that was established in the 1920s and repealed by his bill (the Hart-Celler Act), which is one of the landmarks of the 1960s.
3. Celler was one of the few members of Congress who publicly raised the issue of rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. He was also one of the toughest critics of McCarthyism in its time.
4. He played a substantial role in the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and the 25th Amendment.
5. He lost in a primary to Elizabeth Holtzman in 1972. (Celler opposed the ERA) Otherwise, he, rather than Peter Rodino, would have the chaired the impeachment inquiry into Richard Nixon.
Good subject for anyone who wants to take the time.